The warm weather is an enticement for many people to enjoy the great doors. One warm weather activity that appeals to many people, especially younger people, is riding around on an All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV). While these vehicles can be ridden any time of year, the scenery and warmth add to their attraction as fun vehicles.
ATVs are also used for agricultural purposes, surveying, and transporting people, animals, and equipment. They can be used in the mountains, on beaches, and various types of rough terrain, in addition to roadways and highways. But just because they are multi-purpose does not mean they are always safe.
Why ATVs are dangerous
ATVs are not as stable as cars and trucks. They are prone to tipping or rolling over. Many people fail to appreciate the limits of what ATVs can do. If a driver adds a passenger, the driver of the ATV must be extra-cautious because the added weight makes it tougher to control the ATV.
According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC):
- Tennessee is one of the ten worst states for ATV accidents.
- The spring and summer months, especially June, July, and August, are the most dangerous.
- 29% of injuries are to the arms and hands; 27% of injuries are to the head or neck; and 22% to the legs and feet.
- Kids under 16 suffer more than 10%, on average, of the deaths caused by ATVS each year
- Accidents, on average, happened on the following roads in the following proportions
- Paved roads. 32%.
- Unpaved roads. 18%.
- Fields, pastures, and farmlands. 13%.
- Forests and woods. 11%.
- Deserts, sands, dunes, beaches and “off-highway” vehicle parks. 5%
The locations of other accidents, according to the CPSC report, are undetermined.
Children and teenagers often lack the physical ability and emotional maturity to ride ATVs. Children should never operate adult ATVs.
Why ATV accidents happen
Common causes of ATV accidents due to negligence include:
- Driving too fast
- Driving in dangerous areas
- Carelessness and recklessness
- Faulty supervision by parents
- Using drugs or alcohol while driving
- Poor weather conditions
- Too many riders
- Faulty maintenance
In negligence cases, the driver and owners can be held accountable. ATV accidents often happen because the ATV was designed improperly or poorly. Manufacturers may be strictly liable for these defects.
Laws on riding ATVs in Tennessee
Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-8-185 provides that:
Off-highway vehicles (including ATVs)
- Can’t be driven on a highway unless the vehicle is properly registered or the vehicle:
- Is being operated to cross a highway
- The ATV is being driving on pre-approved roads such as “specifically defined parts” of state routes 62, 63, and 116
- Can be driven on some additional roads if:
- The local governing bodies approve their use
- The operator rides the ATV during daylight hours or, up to ½ hour, before and after sunrise and sunset – provided the ATV has proper lighting
- The rider and passengers wear helmets and comply with other safety requirements
- The ATV is not ridden on interstates or other designated areas
Additional exceptions and permissions may apply.
ATVs have their joys and functional uses. They can, like cars and other vehicles, be dangerous to operate and dangerous to anyone in their path. At Wagner & Wagner Attorneys at Law, we work to show ATVs were defective. We seek to hold irresponsible drivers and owners liable for all your damage if they were negligent. In death cases, we fight to help families get compensation for their tragic loss.